Dec 20, 2023 - News

$600M Circle Center project would gut indoor mall

A rendering showing plans to turn the middle of Circle Centre Mall into an open-air area with green space.

A development plan for Circle Centre would gut the interior stores and turn the middle of the property into an open-air walkway. Image: Courtesy of Hendricks Commercial Properties

Indianapolis is getting out of the urban indoor shopping mall business.

Driving the news: Hendricks Commercial Properties has agreed to acquire Circle Centre Mall early next year and gut it as part of a $600 million redevelopment project including housing, offices, entertainment and modern retail space, per the IBJ, which has the scoop.

Why it matters: Hendricks gets things done.

  • Its success on other projects instills confidence that Circle Centre will once again become a signature property after some false starts.

Context: The Wisconsin-based developer is behind the booming Bottleworks District on Mass Ave., including redevelopment of an old Coca-Cola bottling plant.

  • It also built IronWorks at Keystone, one of Indianapolis' most acclaimed apartment projects.

What they're saying: "Hendricks has a proven track record of innovation and creativity," Downtown Indy CEO Taylor Schaffer tells Axios. "It's incredible to think that in less than a decade, they have transformed a brownfield bus depot into the world-class destination that is Bottleworks."

  • "That same sort of visionary investment is exactly what Circle Centre needs."

State of play: Circle Centre, though profitable, is an increasingly vacant fortress spanning two blocks adjacent to downtown's biggest attractions.

An aerial rendering showing Circle Centre Mall redeveloped with an open-air interior.
Street-facing facades would be preserved in the Circle Centre Mall redevelopment. Image: Courtesy of Hendricks Commercial Properties

Details: Hendricks plans to demolish Circle Centre's interior corridor and replace the rows of empty stores with landscaped open-air spaces between Meridian and Illinois streets.

  • The historic street-facing facades would be preserved.
  • Plus: Hendricks wants to detach the glassy Artsgarden from the mall, creating a grand staircase on the southeast corner of Illinois and Washington streets.

What's first: The developer expects to start with a $100 million first phase on the south block, with a tentative completion scheduled for 2028, coinciding with the city's plan to make Georgia Street more pedestrian friendly.

Of note: The city and state are offering a combined $64 million in tax credits and forgivable loans, per the IBJ.

Flashback: Circle Centre opened in 1995, at almost the precise moment when enclosed shopping malls started to fade out of style.

  • After Nordstrom closed in 2011, most big-name stores slowly followed, with the pandemic delivering a knockout blow.
  • Simon Property Group, a former co-owner and manager, announced plans to add apartments or condos in 2015, but the idea fizzled.

Between the lines: A convoluted ownership structure with 17 stakeholders — some of whom were content with the mall's consistent profits — made consensus hard to find.

Meanwhile, the city owns the land and parking garages, which Hendricks also agreed to buy.

  • Mayor Joe Hogsett called the complex deal between the mall owners, Hendricks, the city and state a "monumental transformation" for downtown.

The bottom line: Developments on this scale fail often.

  • Hendricks' involvement is fueling optimism that Circle Centre's rebirth is finally here.
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